Is using Fellaini a ‘masterstroke’? Depends who you’re lickspittling…

Date published: Friday 1st February 2019 11:59

If I Fell…
The shameless switch of loyalty from Jose Mourinho to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from The Sun‘s Neil Custis really has been something to behold.

It’s never been more apparent than in his reaction to the exit of Marouane Fellaini from Manchester United to China, which he describes as ‘worth celebrating’, along with the new deal for Anthony Martial.

‘The decisions showed the direction in which Ole Gunar Solskjaer wants Manchester United to go, and yes, despite being just interim manager, he will have been consulted on the decisions.

‘His philosophy meant that instead of up front to the big man, he wants it out wide to the fast man – Fellaini simply did not fit.

‘The fact he made 177 appearances for the club tells you how far it had lost its way under the three managers since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.’

Lost its way? But Custis went on Sunday Supplement in August claiming Mourinho had done an excellent job at Manchester United and had “made them relevant again”. He said any criticism of the Portuguese was “way over the top, miles over the top for what I think he has done at Man Utd”.

And a month later, Custis was writing about Mourinho’s use of Fellaini in a game against Burnley as a ‘masterstroke’. An actual ‘masterstroke’.

‘The Belgian has always felt uncomfortable with the tag of fire-fighter. He feels there is more to his game than that.

‘Clearly, so does Jose Mourinho which is why he fought so hard to keep Fellaini at the club after his contract ran out at the end of last season.

‘But Fellaini has made a habit of bouncing back and proving people wrong in his five years at United and he is out to do it again.’

From a ‘masterstroke’ to a sign of how far the club had lost its way in just five short months. Oh Neil. Is there no spittle you would not lick?


Mediawatch rewind
Neil Custis, The Sun, November 22, attempting to convince us that Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United were not actually shit at all:

‘Nobody should judge their side in a match against this City side, they are that much better than the rest.

‘The top of the table suggests there is a title race still on.

‘There isn’t really. City will have this won by around ten points come May, there is no stopping them.’

Is it okay if Newcastle judge themselves in a match against this City side, Neil?


Somebody else’s Storey

‘As has been noted’ is just excellent from Lipton. And when we say excellent, we mean… [redacted].


Who’s Sarri now?
Mediawatch doffs its cap to The Sun for its truly excellent back-page headline of ‘Sarri seems to be the hardest word’. But cap remains firmly upon head when we then look at the Daily Mirror‘s truly baffling back-page headline of ‘Sarri seems to be the hardest words’. What the shuddering f*** were they thinking with that plural? It’s not the correct name of the song and it makes no grammatical sense. You don’t know how angry this has made us.

The Sun back their headline with a solid ‘IT’S A BAD, BAD SITUATION’ but then it gets more and more absurd as Neil Ashton and Andrew Dillon combine to write a hatchet job on Maurizio Sarri in which all logic is cast aside.

The crux of the back-page story is that Sarri told his players ‘he will NOT be moved’. Come back to us when he says he WILL be moved, fellas.

The pair – though we suspect Ashton’s hand is on the tiller here – then write that ‘N’Golo Kante’s position out wide, the continued selection of Jorginho and Gary Cahill’s unceremonious axe have been openly discussed at a higher level’.

First, Kante is clearly not playing ‘out wide’. As Dillon himself notes on the opposite page, Kante has been moved ‘to a more attacking role on the right of the midfield three’. Think Ander Herrera. Do not think Nani.

As for Jorginho, we suspect that Sarri might argue that the club selling Cesc Fabregas and not providing a replacement might be a contributing factor there.

And the Cahill line has just made us guffaw. Only Manchester City and Liverpool have a better defensive record than Chelsea this season; we don’t think Ashton’s mate Cahill is the issue here. And we will be flabbergasted if Chelsea executives are saying ‘well, we’re in a cup final, two other cup competitions and in the hunt for Champions League places, but what the hell has happened to Gary Cahill?’.


Sarri, not Sarri
Keep in mind that headline on the back page of The Sun and then read this from a Sun Online exclusive published on Friday morning about a conversation between Sarri and a Chelsea fan outside the ground in Bournemouth:

‘But Sarri showed his class by facing up to the inquisition and listening to what the disgruntled fans had to say.

‘And he then offered his sincere apologies, saying sorry several times before shaking hands and leaving on good terms.’

It doesn’t sound that hard.


Comic timing
From The Sun: ‘In the 50-minute dressing-room inquest after the shameful 4-0 loss at Bournemouth…’

From the Daily Mirror: ‘The Blues boss was left stunned by Wednesday night’s 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth and locked his team in the dressing room for an hour after the game.’

Oh and we suspect he didn’t actually lock them in. Because that would be a criminal offence.


Wanna be startin’ something
Sorry/Sarri to labour this but Andrew Dillon made a point in The Sun of comparing the Chelsea boss to his Premier League rivals, writing that ‘everywhere around Sarri at the top of the Premier League, Chelsea’s rivals have an alternative when the going gets tough’.

He then cites Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola as examples. It’s worth noting – unless you work for The Sun – that Sarri has picked up eight more points in his first 24 games than Klopp did, and just two points less than Guardiola managed. He is also doing rather better than Mauricio Pochettino at the same juncture and he is currently on level pegging with Unai Emery. It’s almost like management takes time.

Oh and he is still in three cup competitions.

What an unmitigated disaster.


Question of the day
‘Is Sarri a genius or a myth?’ – Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.

Erm, probably neither.


Recommended reading of the day
Richard Jolly on Marouane Fellaini

Dominic Fifield on Chelsea


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